What is Visual Data Analysis?


Visual data analysis blends highly advanced computational methods with sophisticated graphics engines to tap the extraordinary ability of humans to see patterns and structure in even the most complex visual presentations. Currently applied to massive, heterogeneous, and dynamic datasets, such as those generated in studies of astrophysical, fluidic, biological, and other complex processes, the techniques have become sophisticated enough to allow the interactive manipulation of variables in real time. Ultra high-resolution displays allow teams of researchers to zoom into interesting aspects of the renderings, or to navigate along interesting visual pathways, following their intuitions and even hunches to see where they may lead. New research is now beginning to apply these sorts of tools to the social sciences as well, and the techniques offer considerable promise in helping us understand complex social processes like learning, political and organizational change, and the diffusion of knowledge.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • The above description of visual data analysis, I think, is accurate and current. The advent of web 2.0 technologies has transformed the landscape of media and communication as such that the ways young people interact with media and technology have been greatly influenced and changed. More and more people are accessing through social media, websites and blogs content produced from traditional mass media; audiences are also participating in various online groups and communities, finally, digitalization has made it possible for audiences to generate and and distribute media content with ease. From a research methodological point of view, in oder to understand the communication processes underlying these emerging practices, new approaches in empirical research have instigated reconfiguring and redeveloping conventional research methods such as social network analysis as an example of visual date analysis. Judging from the research I have come across which use this type of method and conducted in the context of education, I believe visual data analysis is helpful when gathering evidence for further development of peer -based learning as well as the role of adults in supporting children's own communities/groups for educational use of the Web. Moreover, the use of Social Network Analysis for online communication when combined with participant observation (or the presence of the teacher), is of value to evaluate the efficacy of learning programs as well to sense individual or group conflicts that need to be solved. Visual data analysis such as SNA can also be useful in uncovering hidden activities of, for example, the most shy children, revealing that sometimes when they seem to be absent or not participating, in fact they are focused on other aspects of the networked activities. In short, I believe that visual data analysis can help develop better practices in media education that enable self-directed, interest-driven, and technologically enabled learning.- papaioannou.t papaioannou.t Oct 30, 2013
  • Visual data analysis could be very useful to provide learners with a 'mirror' of their learning activity over time to help them, and their carers, to reflect on their learning. Also extremely useful to represent large sets of data from direct sources to support an argument and get a grasp of 'complexity'. - Serge Serge Oct 30, 2013
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(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • The above description is accurate to my knowledge. - papaioannou.t papaioannou.t Oct 30, 2013
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(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative expression?

  • As I said in my answer to the first quesiton, research analyzing visual data, particularly network data, will help us understand better the dynamics of peer based group learning in oder to provide the appropriate support and learning contexts children and young people need.- papaioannou.t papaioannou.t Oct 30, 2013
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(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • Costa, C., & Damásio, M. (2012, March). Elementary school goes online - making sense of peer-to-peers and peer-to-content interactions with SNA. MERJ (The Media Education Research Journal), 03(01), 22-37. Retrieved from http://merj.info/previous-issues/
    Ito, M., Gutierrez, K., Livingstone, S., Penuel, B., Rhodes, J., Salen, K., . . . Watkins, S. C. (2013). Conected Learning - an agenda for Research and Design. Irvine, CA: Digital Media and Learning Research Hub. Retrieved 09 30, 2013, from http://clrn.dmlhub.net/
  • - papaioannou.t papaioannou.t Oct 30, 2013
    your response here
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